Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Dating to the mid-eighteenth century, the North Side Burial Ground in Ferryland, NL served as a cemetery for a century and a half. It is located along the Southern Shore Highway on Fox Hill and overlooks Ferryland Harbour. The designation is confined to the area enclosed by the cemetery fence and identified locally as North Side Burial Ground.
North Side Burial Ground has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Ferryland because of its historic and aesthetic values.
North Side Burial Ground has historic value as a physical record of Ferryland’s history, the cemetery markers serving as both historic records and artifacts on the landscape. There are less than a dozen intact headstones in the cemetery and it is possible that many graves are no longer marked. It is one of the oldest known cemeteries in the community, with the earliest headstones dating from the mid 1700s. The cemetery was officially consecrated and named North Side Burial Ground in July 1827 by John Inglis, Bishop of Nova Scotia. At that time, Ferryland was the mercantile and administrative centre of the Southern Shore region. The names of those buried in North Side Burial Ground suggest that this cemetery was reserved for Ferryland’s upper class. Throughout the 1700s and into the 1800s, the ruling elite in Ferryland were predominantly English-born and Protestant. Many were agents sent out to Newfoundland under the auspices of English West Country merchants. Others were administrators sent to the community by the English government. It appears that some of those interred at North Side Burial Ground - namely Thomas Congdon, John Steer and Neil Shannon were seasonal merchants or merchant’s agents, while Peter Weston served as a Justice of the Peace. Elizabeth Hamilton was the wife of Rev. Henry H. Hamilton.
Around this time, some merchants were also putting down permanent roots in the community. Half of the intact headstones in the cemetery are memorials to members of the Morry family. The Morrys first came to the region in the latter decades of the 1700s, when Matthew Morry, a West Country merchant from Dartmouth, petitioned the Governor of Newfoundland for the right to possess property in Caplin Bay (later named Calvert). His request would have challenged the tradition of the time, which saw land change hands among fishing fleets at the beginning of each fishing season. Morry was granted exclusive rights to the land for use in the fishery and so began his family’s venture in the New World. The Morrys would become one of the most influential merchant families in the region, and eventually settled in Ferryland. The cemetery is located a short distance from the land where the family made their home.
The most recent stone in the cemetery is a memorial to the crew of the Danish ship Sigrid. On Friday, December 3, 1903, the 80 ton Sigrid was heading north to St. John’s when it ran into high winds and rough seas off Ferryland Head. When lighthouse keeper William Costello saw debris floating in the water, he knew a ship had run aground. He immediately went into town to get assistance. Rescuers saw pieces of the boat and its cargo strewn on the rocks. Then the men spotted the bodies of the crew, none of whom had survived the wreck. The rescuers braved the rough weather and steep cliffs, lowering themselves by rope to retrieve the bodies of the Sigrid’s crew. After four days, all of the bodies were retrieved and the Sigrid’s crew was buried at North Side Burial Ground. The monument marking their place of burial was erected in the cemetery by the Danish government in the early 1900s.
North Side Burial Ground has aesthetic value due to its unique environmental setting and burial stones. Located on Fox Hill, overlooking Ferryland Harbour, it provides an impressive view of the community, particularly Cape Broyle Head, the islands that dot the harbour, The Downs and Ferryland Head. The cemetery has further aesthetic value due to the age of the remaining headstones and the materials used that correspond to the age of the cemetery.
Source: Town of Ferryland Regular Council Meeting July 1, 2008.
All those elements which represent the historic and aesthetic value of the cemetery, including:
-extant, original memorial stones and monuments with their surviving inscriptions;
-positioning of grave markers;
-natural, grassy topography;
-view to and from the cemetery from a variety of vantage points, and;
-location, orientation and dimensions of the cemetery.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
1827/01/01 to 1827/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street
St. John's, NL A1C 5V5
Cross-Reference to Collection